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Suspect arrested in acid attack awaiting charges in Milwaukee County

Posted at 6:42 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 19:42:08-05

MILWAUKEE — A 61-year-old man remains behind bars for allegedly attacking another man with battery acid Friday night on Milwaukee’s south side. He could be charged as early as Tuesday.

Surveillance video captured the incident by 13th and Cleveland.

A man in a hooded sweatshirt seems to get into an argument with another guy and starts pointing at him. Eventually he throws what’s believed to be battery acid in the victim’s face. Then, seconds later you can see the suspect remain on the scene and a potential witness run into a business.

42-year-old Mahud Villalaz now can’t see with his left eye and has burn marks on his face.

He said it all started with an argument over a parking space and it escalated to the point where the suspect targeted his ethnicity and immigration status.

“Started talking like ‘you don’t respect my laws, you can’t invade my country so go back to your country.’ I’m a U.S. Citizen. I have my rights too,” Villalaz said. “There are people that are willing to hurt another one for no reason, just for the color of your skin or how you talk or everything.”

Now Mayor Tom Barrett is going ahead and calling the incident an “obvious” hate crime.

“This is not something that should occur in this community. It shouldn’t occur on this planet,” Barrett said. “I have no idea what was going through this guy’s mind that’s for sure.”

Alderman Jose Perez of the South Side, who lives near the scene of the crime, believes it’s an isolated incident for the neighborhood. He said his community is resilient.

“We’re not going to tolerate that type of ignorance or violence,” Perez said. “We’ve had a lot of positive impact and we’re here to help heal the community,” Perez said.

He also said that the district attorney is looking into hate crime enhancers that could add time or punishment for the suspect.

“Everything leads in that direction and if that’s the case I’m confidant that the DA will do his job,” Perez said.

Police said a lab will be testing the liquid used in the attack.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Villalaz’s family to help with medical costs.